Question about town building codes

Discussion in 'Landscape Architecture and Design' started by BkServicesLLC18, Apr 25, 2009.

  1. BkServicesLLC18

    BkServicesLLC18 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 15

    As a Landscape Designer (not an Architect) if you have a big prject with retaining walls (not needed to be engineered) but a lot of pavers like says taking up a bout 40% of the overall property and the customer doesnt want to spend the money on pervious pavers...but the code says only 30% can be coverd by impervious materials what should you do... ive told the customer this but he dosnt care...i would hate to lose the job because of a technical thing like this....but i believe if i went and did the job knowing that its more then 30% coverage of impervious pavment the town would go after the home owner and the home owner would then say i should have known even tho i already informed him? I dont know i just dont like confrontation with iether the town or customer..i want to be viewed as resptable in both eyes.
  2. AGLA

    AGLA LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,776

    This is not building code, but zoning regulation. You need to document that the responsibility of meeting zoning laws is the client's responsibilty. If there is some type of Order of Conditions for the project that you are aware of, you must comply with them.

    More than likely, you (or me) are not qualified to determine what percentage of the property is pervious although it may be pretty obvious. Typically a Professional Land Surveyor is required to prove what that percentage is.

    You need to write into your contract "Compliance with all rules and regulations of all regulatory bodies with jurisdiction over this property is the responsibility of the property owner". You also need to document what area the client is having you pave so that he can't say that you did more than he was aware of. Ideally you should sketch a plan showing the area either to scale or with dimensions and include the compliance note. The plan should have a title (driveway plan) the client's name and date. Then you reference "plan entitled Driveway Plan dated x/x/xx" in your contract. That ties it all together.
  3. Isobel

    Isobel LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 548

    honestly I would first go to the town and ask for, in writing, what the specific regulation or code is, and also what the penalty for violation is. Then I would take that information to the client, have them read it. Then draw up a document saying that the client agrees this is a violation of regulation and will not hold you, the contractor, responsible for any violations.

    At some point I would also take this matter up with your attorney to see if the document of non-reponsibility is even legal.

    Personally, I would stand firm on the code or regulation, because the last thing I want is to get into trouble with the town/local governing body. Which of course means that I might lose the account, but I'd rather that that get into a legal battle.
  4. AGLA

    AGLA LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,776

    The disclaimer is perfectly reasonable if he is unsure and unqualified to determine if the impervious area violates a zoning regulation. A landscape contractor is not typically the person responsible for knowing what zoning district the project is in, for having knowledge of all zoning by-laws, or for enforcing them. Landscape contractors are not typically called upon to calculate lot coverage (only a Professional Land Surveyor is qualified to do that where I am).

    The question is how does BK know that the project violates zoning. If it is because he has been shown documentation that it does, it would be wrong to do it. If he is not very knowledgable about zoning laws (very likely since he thinks it is building code), he may be making an assumption that is not his responsibility to determine and may also be incorrect.

    1.) how do you know that 30% impervious is a violation for this particular project?
    2.) how are you sure that the impervious coverage is more than 30%?
  5. Isobel

    Isobel LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 548

    the landscape contractor is responsible for knowing of any codes or regulations they may be breaking in doing any project. If they don't know, they need to take a trip down to the governing body and figure that out. If he needs to hire a land surveyor, then he should.

    I didn't say that the disclaimer wasn't reasonable. I said that I'm not sure its legal. If the project does go against a code or regulations then that would be illegal, and I personally would not do it.
  6. AGLA

    AGLA LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,776

    As a designer, BK can design anything with a disclaimer that it must be approved by any regulatory body that has jurisdiction. It could say "permit set - not for construction". This is done as part of the permitting process all of the time not only by designers, but by engineers, surveyors, landscape architects, and architects. You need a plan to present in order to get approval. Sometimes they will be accepted - sometimes not.

    You can design anything - whether it is approved or not is another story.

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